Summary: To show that the grace and love of Christ creates the miracle of the new birth in unlikely people.
TO SEE WHO JESUS WAS...
Luke 19:1 “Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
19:2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.
19:3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.
19:4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.
19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’
19:6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.
19:7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’
19:8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’
19:9 And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;
19:10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.”
This is a story about that Saviour. A lost person is found and a sinner reborn to experience the joy of God’s salvation in Christ.
So Zacchaeus. Who was Zacchaeus? He was a little man with a big, bad reputation.
He was Rich, at the expense of other people, but that did not bother Zacchaeus!
Zacchaeus was at the top of his profession. As chief tax collector of the district, probably getting there by being more devious than the last chief tax collector, Zacchaeus took a cut from every tax collector in his taxation area. This made him very rich.
He was influential. People would do deals with him in order to avoid paying too much tax.
“You owe 500 denarii/drachmas, pay me 100 and say 200 to the government I will record that you paid in full. Save you a couple of hundred.”
Or, in his position as chief tax collector he could accuse people of not paying what they owed the Roman government and have them thrown into prison. He could use his power to extort money from them.
Rich, professionally successful and powerful.
The down side was that he was shunned by the majority of people. People hated him and did not trust his family.
He probably had to protect himself from his enemies, so he lived in fear as well as being arrogant.
He was sad and needy. He was spiritually lost. He was a sinner. Socially he was “on the outer.”
Just as Christ accepted the lepers although they were among the outcasts from society of His day, so He accepted Zacchaeus.
We dislike such people. I put it to you that we dislike people like Zacchaeus more than we dislike lepers.
1. Because we don’t have much to do with lepers, the outcasts of our society. We don’t have to mix with them. We look down on them. We feel sorry for outcasts and the people they associate with because they are socially beneath us; because they don’t fit into “good, acceptable” society, whatever that is. (Substitute the drug "P" and the sickened drug dealers, prostitutes with AIDS and pimps or car thieves for lepers…)
The second reason we dislike Zacchaeus types more that societies’ lepers…
2. Because we have to mix from time to time with them. We have to meet some people we know are extortionists, who take our money and often misuse it: Members of Parliament and Local Body Councillors, Local Body officials, lawyers, even my dentist!
What is going to remove all that prejudice from our hearts?
John Calvin said: “we cannot aspire to Him (God) in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapt 1. Para.1. Bible Explorer 4)
Zacchaeus was not pleased. He was not happy with himself as he was.
He had probably heard Jesus preaching at another occasion: [Matthew 9:10; Mk 2:15; Lk 5:29]
Lk 15:1 tells us that “all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.”
Once Jesus had invited the little man to come down and to have Jesus stay it his house, something happened to Zacchaeus.